Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Taking the Kindle leap
I'm now reading a Kindle book -- but not on an actual Kindle, either versions 1 or 2, but on a brand-new Apple iPod Touch.
I bought the Touch yesterday to stay connected to the world with its wireless e-mail and Web browsing capability, and thought I'd experiment with reading the Kindle version of an e-book. So for $6.39 I downloaded Angels Flight, a 1999 novel by Michael Connelly that I hadn't yet read, and have just started the first chapter. (The Kindle reader software, made available just last week, is free.)
The $229 (for 8 gigabytes of memory) iPod Touch is not a $359 Kindle, nor should reading e-books on it be mistaken for reading a real Kindle. So far, however, the experience has been better than I expected.
The backlit 3 1/2 inch screen of an iPod Touch doesn't measure up for restfulness compared to that of the Kindle's higher-tech 6-inch "e-ink" monitor. I suspect the iPod won't be suitable for long hours with a book, although it'll clearly be better than the big K for reading in poor light or in the dark.
The Kindle iPod text, in a pleasant serifed font that looks like Georgia, is remarkably readable. You have a choice of five sizes. I found the middle, about 10 points in height, the most comfortable.
Reading a Kindle e-book on the iPod is simplicity itself. You turn the pages with an easy sweep of the finger. There are no page numbers, but the iPod automatically takes you back to where you left off.
Getting new books is equally uncomplicated. The iPod takes you to the Kindle store, where you have your choice among almost a quarter of a million titles, most of the new offerings costing $9.95, less than half the price of a hardbound. The Kindle store automatically downloads new titles to your iPod.
On the iPod you can't annotate text, as you can on a real Kindle, but that seems a small price to pay for the convenience of a shirt-pocket e-reader.
I'm thinking that the Kindle experience on an iPod Touch (or its close cousin, the iPhone) will be best for short bursts of reading, such as commuting, whiling away empty time on an airplane or train, or waiting for the curtain to rise in the theater.
Kindle isn't the only e-book application for the iPod Touch/iPhone. Some people swear by a similar service called Stanza. I'll be trying out that one in days to come.